Something new - the "Skol" greeting

I have some relatives that just returned from Seattle and they showed us a new way to make a “toast” or greeting with someone. It’s based on it seems a Swedish tradition called Skol.

Here is how it goes. When you give a typical “toast” you say something like “here is to Jims retirement” and everyone touches glasses then drinks. Now with Skol its similar but what you do is make eye contact with just one person, raise your glass to them and say “Skol”. Trick is you say it in a kind of question because they can choose to not respond (yeah gets tricky).

If they do they also reply “skol” and raise their glass to you. No, you dont touch glasses like in a traditional toast.

Now THIS part gets really tricky and is where the honor and tradition comes in.

You then drink your separate glasses but its considered the highest honor and part of decorum if you NEVER break eye contact. You take your sip, then you raise your glass again to the person and you both say “Skol”. (Yeah that means you might miss your mouth or dribble but thats ok.)

And thats it. All you did was make eye contact, said “skol”, drank, and said “skol” again. Its quick, over in a few seconds, and then you go back to whatever you were doing. The important thing is sharing a personal moment. The eye contact is the big thing. Remember the saying “the eyes are the mirror of the soul”.

The advantage or reasons for the skol greeting are:

  1. One need not be able to be close by so you can be across a large table, be sitting down, or across a room.
  2. It tends to be one-on-one rather than a large group thing although you can make it that way, it just takes a bit longer.
  3. It give a deep personal experience between the 2 people not soon forgotten even if the moment is brief.
  4. You can do this at any time like lunch or on a break or something.
  5. You typically have to know the person first before they will reply. I guess its considered quite an honor.

I guess Skol means “Health”.

One can choose to put some of your unique personality into it, make the moment last longer, or add some personal flair.

To me it’s kind of like a handshake. Think about how people practice giving the perfect handshake and greeting and a handshake can say a LOT about a person. Its the same with skol.

Try it and see how it feels.

Have any of you ever heard of this?

Could it catch on?

It’s spelled “skål” in Swedish, and it comes from the word “bowl” since that’s what we used to drink from when the skulls of our enemies weren’t imediately available. And anything with the two words “Swedish” and “Seattle” in it is per definition a very bad idea.

But is a real Swedish thing?



I was born in Sweden, grew up there, have gotten drunk there more times than I can count. Never even heard of this game / tradition / whatever you wanna call it.

“Sto Lat!” Is my traditional toast. I am not Polish, but I like the sound.

Sto Lat!

No, it’s just part of the “Seattle twang”.

Do you do it until you bork bork bork?

Seems like a silly attempt to take something that works perfectly well and break it.

It was used in Wisconsin all the time, which is full of Scandinavians. This was 25 years ago. There seems to be some connection, even if it is an American thing.

There it was just a toast, like saying Cheers! before taking a drink.

Whereas my (quite ‘authentic’, rural) Danish relatives do the Skol/eye contact thing very often, though perhaps with less of the deep meaningfulness of the OP.

My wife’s family is Scandi heritage, the Puget Sound has a huge Scandi element here.

They raise a glass with “Skol!”, but don’t do the inescapable-creepy-stalker-eye-lock thing.

Seems pretty useless. Now, from my time in China I remember a useful toast. It goes “ganbei” from the Chinese words for “dry glass” signifying your intent to drain the glass. There’s another toast if you’re just having a small sip, but I was in China less than 18 months and it never came up.

That’d be skål, not skol.

Odd, though - I’ve lived in Denmark for a decade, and I’ve never heard of this weird never-break-eye-contact version of a toast, either.

Tipping your glass to just one dude, going “skål,” and then finishing your glass - sure. But maintaining eye contact throughout the whole thing? Absolutely not.

ETA: Heh, just asked my born-and-bred Danish girlfriend about this and she said “isn’t that a Latino thing?” :smiley:

Lived in Denmark for several decades and this looking your bro deep in the eye sounds kinda gay to me. Not a thing.

Bastard! Stealing our girls.

Roald Dahl describes this toast being performed when he visited his grandparents in Norway. He writes it “skaal”.

I live in a Puget Sound town with a huge Norwegian heritage. Sadly I have yet to witness this toast being performed.

My mother had an expensive Swedish cook book she got for her then Swedish live-in boyfriend ( a real Swede, from Sweden ) which described this ritual with photos. Which yes were hilariously creepy-looking as red-faced-young-drunken Swede-in-the-photo leered suggestively. For what it’s worth said Swedish boyfriend founds it bemusing as well.

I assume it was once a real ( maybe regional ) thing, but is now hopelessly outdated.

A tradition that’s both outdated and ridiculous by modern standards AND the op heard about it from folks in Seattle?

Nah, not hipster bait. Not even a little bit.

To clarify - the scandinavian word that we say when we want to klink glasses together or make a fuss about consuming alcohol is indeed “skål”. However, we just say it, raise the glass/beercan/bottle briefly or smush them together, and then drink. Staring into each others eyes is not a thing.

However, it sounds as if this might be a bastardisation of european table etiquette from the old days. Where, if you were at a formal dinner, you would have to Acknowledge people around the table with lifted glasses, and then Acknowledge your dinner-partner by holding the glass stiffly, drinking, and holding it stiffly again. Holding eye-contact all the while (opposite-sex only, by design).

It can be seen demonstrated a few times at 26-29 minutes of this danish tv-series. Note the old woman who is giving no fucks.

However, this has really not been a thing since the war, or ever outside of really posh circles.

This thread has made me slightly defensive on my Danish in-laws behalf; they do this in their bit of Northern Denmark still - so let’s just call it ‘regional’.

They do it in friendly, fun, attentive way - not in a ‘Hannibal’ way, like the OP.